On our way home from the Virginia Beach area, my husband suggested we take the rural route, using the east-west Highway 58.
“That’s a good idea, I said. Let’s stop and get a map.” Unfortunately, we didn’t have one in the car,
“We don’t need a map, he said. We’ll follow the GPS on google.”
“No, I want to see the entire route on the map,” I said. He didn’t argue with me because he knows how much I like maps.
We drove into the next truck stop. I looked around but didn’t see the maps, so I asked the clerk where they were.
Before she had time to answer, a man standing in line said, “You can just google where you want to go.” I smiled and looked at the young woman behind the counter.
She looked at me puzzled and said, “Map? I don’t think we have a map. Most people just use google on their phone.”
I reminded her that truckstops usually carry maps, and she came around to look. After a moment, we saw a few on a stand in the corner. “Oh, she said, I didn’t know we still carried paper maps.”
“You don’t seem to have a Virginia map, I said. She said she would check in the back. As she walked away, another man standing in line smiled curiously at me and said, “Maam, you can always use google maps on your phone.”
” I know, I said, but I want a paper map.” He shrugged and continued through the checkout.
When the clerk returned, she said sorry they had no Virginia maps.
Then, as I started to turn around yet, another man, who had been observing my quest to find a paper map, said, “I use google maps.” I looked at him, feeling a little irritated at this point, but before I could reply, he said, “But I like paper maps, too.”
I drove for a while longer until I saw a more prominent truck stop and turned in. When I walked in, I saw a rack of maps and atlases. I asked the same question about having a Virginia map. She said no, but pointed to an atlas.
Before she had time to tell me I could google my route, I handed her the money for the atlas and went into the cafeteria adjoining the truck stop.
Sitting down at a table, I opened the map and just looked. I like looking at the lines, the surrounding towns and parks, the rivers, mountains, and roads that connect endlessly with each other.
I feel safe with a paper map. When I see the entire route on paper, I feel confident I know where I’m going. I can mark out my preferred route and circle landmarks we might be interested in along the way.
I use my GPS when trying to navigate in small places, but I prefer a paper map on long trips.
Paper maps don’t run out of battery power. And, there are places where the GPS signal doesn’t work, or the routing is ridiculous. For example, suppose I decide to stop or go another way; then the rerouting voice drives me crazy.
When we constantly use smartphone apps for information and navigation, we can become too dependent on technology without understanding the tangible world around us.
It is like being told where to go or what to do without being told the why.
I’m not the only person who still prefers paper maps. According to the NPD BookScan, the sale of paper maps and atlases has had a five-year compound annual growth rate of 10%. In 2019, the travel maps and atlases category sold 666,000 units, with year-over-year sales up 7%.
When we traveled with our children, it was like a scavenger hunt as we opened the map and showed them where we were, where we were going, and how we would get there.
And it helped when they would ask the age-old question: “Are we there yet?”
We encouraged them to follow the lines on the map with all the tiny dots for towns we had to pass through before we reached our destination. Thus, they could see the entire trip from one point to another and how much further we had to go.
I felt so content sitting there looking at the map with my pen marking the places I might want to stop at along the way when I realized a man and his young son were looking at me. I looked up and smiled.
“Where you headed, the man asked?” “Home,” I said.
“Where’s that,” he asked? “Marion, Virginia, I said. We’re going across Highway 58,” I said.
He looked puzzled for a moment and then said, You know you can just google it. It will take you right to your driveway.”